JOSEPH ALDERSON. A goodly delegation of English Yorkshrie men came to this county during its pioneer days, and among them was the subject of this sketch, who is worthy of more than a passing notice. He is comfortably settled on a good farm on section 35, township 16, range 12, where, after years of faithful labor, he is now enabled to rest upon his oars, and view with satisfaction the results of his industry. He is one of those substantial and reliable men, who have not only accumulated a good property, but are held in the highest regard by their fellow citizens.
The subject of this sketch was born Oct. 23, 1835, and is the son of Charles and Elizabeth (Pratt) Alderson, who were likewise natives of Yorkshire, and who, in the spring of 1850, emigrated to the United States. They made the voyage on a sailing vessel bound from Liverpool to New York City, and were five weeks on the ocean. From the metropolis they came directly to this county, and the father purchased 160 acres of wild prairie land, which now constitutes the homestead of his son Joseph. He labored in true pioneer style for many years thereafter with good results, and added forty acres to his first purchase. He resided upon this homestead until called hence, March 12, 1868. His wife had previously died, passing away nov. 5, 1864.
To the parents of our subject there were born eleven children, only seven of whom are living: John moved to Colorado and died in 1887; he had lived in Morgan and Scott Counties prior to that time, and was for one term Deputy Sheriff of Scott County, Ill. Charles is a resident of Champaign County, this State; Mary the wife of John Munson, of California; Elizabeth (Mrs. Kevey), a widow of Washington; Annie, the wife of Henry Gilbert, of California; Joseph, our subject; George, a resident of this county; and James, who lives in Nebraska. The elder Alderson possessed all the excellent traits of his substantial English ancestry, and was a member in good standing of the Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church. He had received but a limited education in his youth, but kept himself well posted upon current events, and was capable of transacting in an intelligent manner the business connected with his farming operations. Politically, he affiliated with the Democratic party, and made it the rule of his life to do unto others as he would be done by.
The subject of this sketch began his early studies in the schools of his native county in England, and was at an early age taught to make himself useful to his parents, and thus there were bred in him those habits of industry which have been the secret of his later success. He received 100 acres of land from his father's estate, and to this has added until he is now the owner of 600 acres, the home farm comprising 285 acres. It has all been brought to a good state of cultivation, and Mr. Alderson has put up a fine residence, a good barn, and the other buildings necessary for the successful prosecution of farming and stock-raising. It is conceded by all that he has one of the most desirable homes in this township.
Over thirty years ago, on the 28th of October, 1858, our subject took unto himself a wife and helpmate, Miss Elizabeth A. Henderson, who has borne him nine children. Seven of these are living, namely: Lewis, John, Edward, Henry, Eva Etta, Carrie B., and Myrtie A. The deceased are Emma and Ella, who were taken from the home circle at the ages of one and ten years respectively. The Alderson family removed to their present home in the fall of 1850, and have now occupied it for a period of nearly forty years. Mr. Alderson is a self-made man in the broadest sense of the term, liberal and public-spirited, and fully identified with the interests of his adopted country. He gives his unqualified support to the Democratic party, but is no office seeker, having simply served his district as School Director, holding this position many years. Both he and his estimable wife belong to the Methodist Protestant Church at Bethel.
Mr. Alderson has been an eye witness of the growth of Morgan County from its primitive state into what it is today, and in the development of a large area of land, has contributed thus much to the value of its taxable property. In his labors and struggles he has been materially assisted by his faithful wife, who has borne with him the head and burden of the day. Mrs. Alderson was born in this county Feb. 11, 1840, and is the daughter of Silas and Sarah (Gorham) Henderson, the father a native of Virginia and the mother of New York State. Mr. Henderson was taken to Ohio with his parents when quite young, and from there they came to this county at an early day. After his marriage Mr. Henderson settled in Arcadia Precinct, but finally removed to the place which his son, Francis M., now occupies, where he sojourned many years. His death took place at the old homestead in Concord Precinct, Aug. 16, 1886. The mother passed away prior to the decease of her husband, June 30, 1862. Mr. Henderson performed a great deal of hard labor in common with his brother pioneers, and was a man careful and conscientious in his dealings - one who endeavored to do by his neighbors as he would be done by. His father having died when he was but a youth, he at an early age assumed the responsibilities of a family. He looked upon the present site of Jacksonville when there was not a house to mark the spot, and when the labor of going to mill occupied several days. For long distances there was not even a wagon track, the traveler having to follow simply an Indian trail. Frequently being unable to reach the mill, the pioneers parched their corn and ground it in a coffee mill, and made bread from the meal thus obtained.
The Henderson family included eight children: Francis Marion, Elizabeth;
Lucretia, the wife of George Renchler, of this county; Stephen, living in
Missouri; Emma, the wife of Jacob Lable, of Iowa; Ellen, Mrs. Felix Brown;
Miriam, the wife of Charles Craig; and Henry; the latter three of Missouri. The
mother was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the father,
politically, in his latter years a stanch Republican. The eldest son, F. M.,
served as a soldier in the late Civil War. The paternal grandfather of Mrs.
Alderson was one of the very first pioneers of this county, and a Justice of the
Peace many years. Mr. Alderson for the last few years has been breeding
thorough-bred Holstein cattle.